Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Helen McEntee has said that the undergrounding of the proposed North South Interconnector is very much a priority for her and her colleagues in Meath, Cavan and Monaghan. Speaking at a public meeting last week in the NewGrange Hotel Deputy McEntee reiterated the work that Fine Gael and this Government has done in relation to the project over the past number of years. She also reiterated her commitment to working with the people in Meath in the bid to have the project under grounded.
Deputy McEntee said;
“A number of committmets were made by Fine Gael before the last election, all of which have been followed through. As was promised in the election manifesto an Independent International Report was carried out on the feasibility of undergrounding the North South Interconnector. A very large sum of money was recouped from Eirgrid for NEPP following the collapse of the last oral hearing. This has never happened before and would not have happened without the help of Fine Gael members. A commitment was given that no application would be made until the findings of the report was published and as a Government Fine Gael promised to keep an open mind on the project. I want to see this project under grounded but Eirgrid has always insisted that over head power lines are the only option for the AC route. I have lodged my objection to this in my submission to An Bord Pleanala a number of weeks ago.
“In the last year an Independent Panel, chaired by ex Judge Catherine McGuinness was set up to explore the different options available for Grid Link and Grid West. Justice McGuinness and her panel were also asked to examined the work that Eirgrid had carried out on alternative options for the North South Interconnector. After months of work the panel found that sufficient work had been carried out on alternative options before a second application was made. While I do not agree with this outcome we are now at a stage where an application has been made and the next step will be an Oral Hearing. When that time comes I will outline my views and make a case for undergrounding.
“On a personal note I am very disappointed at the manner in which myself and my colleagues were treated at the public meeting by the committee. The meeting was supposedly arranged to try and find a political solution to the proposed project. I have tried to work with NEPP committee members since being elected but I have found it extremely difficult due to their hostile behaviour towards me and this Government. This was reiterated at Thursday’s meeting. I will continue to work on behalf of landowners and residents affected by his project.”